Video of Rep. Juan Mendez’s Godless Invocation in the Arizona House of Representatives

Yesterday, I posted about how Rep. Juan Mendez, a member of the Arizona House of Representatives, delivered a godless invocation before yesterday’s afternoon session.

Video of that invocation is now online:

Most prayers in this room begin with a request to bow your heads. I would like to ask that you not bow your heads. I would like to ask that you to take a moment to look around the room at all of the men and women here, in this moment, sharing together this extraordinary experience of being alive and of dedicating ourselves to working toward improving the lives of the people in our state.

This is a room in which there are many challenging debates, many moments of tension, of ideological division, of frustration. But this is also a room where, as my Secular Humanist tradition stresses, by the very fact of being human, we have much more in common than we have differences. We share the same spectrum of potential for care, for compassion, for fear, for joy, for love…

Carl Sagan once wrote, “For small creatures such as we, the vastness is bearable only through love.” There is, in the political process, much to bear. In this room, let us cherish and celebrate our shared humanness, our shared capacity for reason and compassion, our shared love for the people of our state, for our Constitution, for our democracy — and let us root our policymaking process in these values that are relevant to all Arizonans regardless of religious belief or nonbelief. In gratitude and in love, in reason and in compassion, let us work together for a better Arizona.

I love how the other House members in that video seem out of place, unsure of what to do, because this is an atypical, non-religious invocation.

Mendez appears nervous, too, but I hope he knows how much our community appreciates what he did — and the risk he took in doing it — and that he continues to be a voice of reason in a political machine that almost always speaks the language of religion.

(via the Secular Coalition for Arizona)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • SuperAsianSalsero

    I love the message. However, delivery can be improved. Kudos Rep. Juan Mendez.

  • benanov

    Silverlight? Can we get an actual standard video format, please?

    • Karol Stasiak
      • benanov

        Woo, thanks. Silverlight doesn’t work on Linux, and Moonlight is DOA

      • rg57

        Thank you. I actually have Silverlight, and the original video did not work at all for me. YouTube did though.

  • pRinzler

    Let’s inundate him with messages of support and approval,

    • chicago dyke

      Thank you! my email:

      Dear Rep. Mendez:

      I just wanted to let you know how much I support and affirm your humanist invocation recently performed in the AZ house. I am not a resident of AZ, but my family has spent tens of thousands vacationing there over the years, and I have a secular relative who lives there today; I’m sure I speak on her behalf if she hasn’t read about this news already.

      Do not be afraid! There are millions of us, and we are among the fastest growing “sects” in the world. Soon, reason will hold the upper hand in this country, and it will be in part thanks to brave leaders like yourself.

      There is a whole generation of younger people who appreciate, value, and understand your perspective. And, agree with and vote upon it. Never forget that. Every day, there is one more secular voter, and one less who votes according to the dictates of some religious leader. The future will be lead by people like you.

      Thank you for your excellence. Even if it carried no legal force, it’s a step in the right direction. And, it is noted by millions around the globe, who wait patiently for the day when equality for people of all beliefs is legal fact. Please continue to fight to make that so.

      Sincerely, CD

  • pRinzler

    double post, oops

  • Jim Wangerin

    Not sure if anybody caught it but today Rep. Steve Smith (R) opened with his own prayer and then a second daily prayer in “repentance.” for Mendez’s non-prayer.

    • banana

      Ugh! That is horrible.

    • Charles Honeycutt

      Jesus, what a piece of trash.

    • WallofSleep

      Arizona House non-prayer sparks Christian re-do:

      Republican Rep. Steve Smith on Wednesday said the prayer offered by Democratic Rep. Juan Mendez of Tempe at the beginning of the previous day’s floor session wasn’t a prayer at all. So he asked other members to join him in a second daily prayer in “repentance,” and about half the 60-member body did so. Both the Arizona House and Senate begin their sessions with a prayer and a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance.

      “When there’s a time set aside to pray and to pledge, if you are a
      non-believer, don’t ask for time to pray,” said Smith, of Maricopa. “If
      you don’t love this nation and want to pledge to it, don’t say I want to
      lead this body in the pledge, and stand up there and say, ‘you know
      what, instead of pledging, I love England’ and (sit) down.

      “That’s not a pledge, and that wasn’t a prayer, it’s that simple,” Smith said.

  • allein

    There’s an article linked in the description on the youtube video (posted above by Karol Stasiak), in which Mendez is described as a “self-professed atheist”…why is it you never see religious people described as “self-professed Christian” or “self-professed Muslim”? Is it that they just can’t quite accept that people really don’t believe? Or something else?

  • Crystal Bandy Thomas

    That was simply beautiful.